Belfast Telegraph

Syria terrorist? No, he's just a guy sitting on a donkey on holiday, court told

The case against a Northern Ireland man accused of Syrian civil war terrorism charges is flimsy and threadbare nonsense, his trial has been told.

Eamon Bradley, 28, was not Derry's answer to Britain's First World War desert adventurer Lawrence of Arabia and was simply in Turkey on holiday, his barrister Brian McCartney QC said.

According to the prosecution, he had truthfully agreed that he committed offences when questioned by detectives and was not a fantasist.

But Mr McCartney told jurors: "This case is a threadbare piece of nonsense and it was not worth wasting the public purse on it.

"I respectfully urge you to let the authorities know that."

Bradley, originally from Melmore Gardens in Creggan, Londonderry, denied firing a bullet during three battles against Islamic State and the Syrian government but, when interviewed by police, said he signed up as a soldier in one of the rebel groups in 2014.

He described attending a training camp and carrying an assault rifle and grenade as a junior infantryman or mujahid fighter.

Mr McCartney referred to a photo of his client put before the jury as evidence.

"It was not Derry's answer to Lawrence of Arabia," he said.

"All it was was a guy on holiday sitting on a donkey or on an ass or a mule."

Bradley denies six charges, including attending a terrorist training camp and receiving training in the use of a grenade.

An expert witness testified that AK 47 assault rifles Bradley was photographed in front of could have been deactivated.

Mr McCartney said one of the battles the defendant told police he was present at did not happen.

Prosecutor Ciaran Murphy QC told Londonderry Crown Court: " This man has told you the truth of what he did.

"The truth means he is guilty of these offences.

"We say he is involving himself in acts of terrorism."

According to earlier testimony he gave to police he used a Facebook page to research the fighting, convert to Islam and make contact with people who told him how to get there.

They pinpointed a village on the Turkey/Syria border and he was given a WhatsApp mobile messaging number to make contact with the rebels once there.

He flew from Dublin to Turkey in February 2014 then was smuggled across the border with Syria, crossing a river in a makeshift raft.

He told police he attended a training camp run by the Army of Islam rebel faction and was present at three battles.

Bradley said he went to help the Syrian people.

Mr Murphy said offences were committed if someone took up weapons and used or threatened violence against a particular regime or race or religion.

He said: "The alternative to that is anarchy and everyone does whatever they think is right."

He added: "It is unregulated warfare with no political basis whatsoever."

The jury is due to begin deliberating on Wednesday.

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